Wednesday 23 August 2017 / 04:23 PM

BOTTAS TAKES THE FLAG IN AUSTRIA GP

The ninth round of the Formula 1 season took place at picturesque Red Bull Ring in Austria. The short track is well known for its high speed turns and variable weather, however on this occasion, conditions were perfect and made for an exciting finish.

Honda finally provided a power upgrade for their McLarens which produced immediate improvement in the first practice session of the weekend on Friday. Both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne found themselves setting top ten times. Mercedes Lewis Hamilton looked to hit back after a quirky incident with his headrest in Baku cost him a win two weeks ago. Hamilton set the fastest time in FP1, pipping Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Several cars had minor spins or overshot the track but no major incidents or mechanical issues arose in the session.

More cars went off the track without incident in the second practice session, where Hamilton again topped the times with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel just behind. Bottas, Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were all within 0.390 seconds of Hamilton’s time.

Day 2 brought plenty of bad news to Hamilton. After installing a new gearbox and receiving a 5 place grid penalty, his Silver Arrow then suffered from brake failure near the end of the session, with Qualifying just a few hours away. Vettel was quickest, followed by both Mercedes, team mate Kimi Raikkonen and both Red Bulls.

Qualifying produced some early surprises, most notably both Williams’ cars failing to post good enough times to advance to the second qualifying session. They were joined by both Saubers, Kevin Magnussen’s troublesome Haas and luckless Jolyon Palmer. Despite their upgrades, both McLaren’s failed to advance to the final session. The final qualifying stint saw both Force India’s well off the pace while the top four places went to the Ferrari’s and Mercedes, as was expected. Bottas claimed pole with Vettel narrowly behind him in second. Hamilton was third quickest while Raikkonen pipped RIcciardo and Verstappen.

Hamilton started the race in 8th place and had to make up seven places to get in front of Championship leader Vettel and try to reel in the points gap. Verstappen had a bad start as he suffered with clutch issues, he took a safe line on the outside of the track into turn 1. Alonso alternatively was lightning quick, overtaking Sainz almost immediately, but as he entered turn 1, he was hit in the rear by a late braking Daniil Kvyat. Alonso lost control and collided into the side of Verstappen and both cars were retired. Bottas got the perfect start, so good that both Vettel and Ricciardo questioned whether he jumped the gun. The stewards analysed all the data and found his start was legal.

Hamilton worked his way quickly into sixth place and was in a battle with Raikkonen which lasted well into the middle of the race. Hamilton pitted before Raikkonen, eventually passing him when the Ferrari had to pit several laps later. Ricciardo pulled off a great pass to move into third place.

Hamilton set about reeling in Ricciardo for a podium while Vettel hunted down Bottas for the win. Hamilton set some blistering times but Ricciardo was able to go very close to matching them, essentially keeping his car in front. Within the last few laps, Hamilton attempted a pass but Ricciardo just hung on to hold his place. Vettel finished the race wishing there was one more lap, as he ended up 0.658 seconds behind race winner Bottas. Ricciardo finished third, less than 1.5 seconds ahead of Hamilton. Raikkonen was a distant fifth and Romain Grosjean got his Haas into sixth place. These were the only cars not lapped during the race. Both Force India’s came next ahead of the brilliantly improved performances of both Williams cars.

Final Standings (Top 10)
1 – Bottas (Mercedes)
2 – Vettel (Ferrari)
3 – Ricciardo (Red Bull)
4 – Hamilton (Mercedes)
5 – Raikkonen (Ferrari)
6 – Grosjean (Haas)
7 – Perez (Force India)
8 – Ocon (Force India)
9 – Massa (Williams)
10 – Stroll (Williams)

Drivers Championship (Top 10)
1 – Vettel – 171
2 – Hamilton – 151
3 – Bottas – 136
4 – Ricciardo – 107
5 – Raikkonen – 83
6 – Perez – 50
7 – Verstappen – 45
8 – Ocon – 39
9 – Sainz – 29
10 – Massa – 22

Constructors Championship
1 – Mercedes – 287
2 – Ferrari – 254
3 – Red Bull – 152
4 – Force India – 89
5 – Williams – 40
6 – Toro Rosso – 33
7 – Haas – 29
8 – Renault – 18
9 – Sauber – 5
10 – McLaren – 2

[YouTube – FORMULA 1]

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About the author

Andrew Ferguson

A rugby league historian and stats buff – most notably as the brains behind the phenomenal Rugby League Project resource – Melbourne-based Andrew has written extensively for Rugby League Review and the Men of League magazine, and is a valued addition to CBS’s rugby league stable.

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